There is a pond on my way home from work, which I sometimes stop and sit
beside. It is filled with millions and millions of tiny fish.
Most of the fish are very skinny. They spend eight or more hours a day
searching for food, and it is barely enough.
The pond also contains several leaches. A half dozen of them have grown
to incredible size, by mercilessly siphoning the blood of all the fish in
Some of the smaller leaches only take enough blood to keep themselves alive,
but the giant leaches are so bloated they no longer worry about the fish.
They just sit on the bottom of the pond, draining any fish foolish enough
to swim near them.
One of them, whom I have named the Royal Leach, is larger than any other.
Its eyes now protrude over the surface, and it can see into neighbouring
It is not as big as some of the leaches in those ponds, and it is jealous.
As I sit and watch, it joins with another giant leach, so together they will
be as big as the corpulent mega-leaches in other ponds.
Lost in the shadows of their own stolen blood, the fish are getting even
skinnier. Some of them float to the surface, dead.
The giant leaches are too wrapped up in their own insecurity to notice.
They have forgotten that the parasitic relationship is symbiotic, and so
they drain their hosts dry.
There are toads in the pond, who earlier in the year set limits on how
much blood the leaches could take. Now they are afraid of being crushed,
so they hide in their corner of the pond and pretend they're still in control.
The fish are still struggling to find enough food for themselves and their
uninvited guests. They work harder and harder, but become weaker and
scrawnier each day.
A thickening layer of dead fish obscures the pond. The stench of it is
I can't stand to sit beside the pond anymore. As I ride past, I wonder
if there are still fish in the pond, struggling to stay alive.
But the sun is setting, and all I can see is the bank across the street
reflected on the surface.